HOW TO HAVE A NICE AFTERLIFE WHAT DO WE MEAN BY AFTERLIFE?
HOW TO HAVE A NICE AFTERLIFE • In the biblical era there were numerous views of the afterlife. • The Egyptian view was the most fully formed. • The Greco-Roman view features immortality of the soul. • The OT view emphasizes SHEOL. • The Pharisaic view believes in resurrection.
HOW TO HAVE A NICE AFTERLIFE • The OT says that when you die you go to the land of the dead, unless you are exceptional like an Enoch or Elijah. • See 1 Samuel 28.3-25 – the shade of Samuel is brought up; • See Psalm 18 – death is like drowning and going down to the bottom of the sea.
HOW TO HAVE A NICE AFTERLIFE • There began to be a more positive view of the afterlife in the later and more apocalyptic prophets. • Ezekiel’s vision of dry bones and resurrection —Ezekiel 37; • Daniel’s reference to resurrection – Dan. 12.2-3. This is not a reference to life in another world, or in heaven. • THE OT MENTIONS LITTLE OR NOTHING ABOUT DYING AND GOING TO HEAVEN.
HOW TO HAVE A NICE AFTERLIFE • In Dan. 12.2-3 there is a bad and a good resurrection or, better said, a resurrection of the righteous that leads to one destiny, and a resurrection of the wicked that leads to another. • This idea will reappear in Revelation 20, and is mentioned in the Gospels. • MAJOR CONCLUSION – YOU MUST HAVE A CONCEPTION OF PROGRESSIVE REVELATION. THE OT DOESN’T HELP VERY MUCH WHEN IT COMES TO THE SUBJECT OF HEAVEN AND THE AFTERLIFE.
HOW TO HAVE A NICE AFTERLIFE • WHAT THE OT DOES SUGGEST IS THAT AFTERLIFE, NOT OTHER WORLD (i.e., HEAVEN), SHOULD BE THE FOCUS OF HOPE. • It also suggests our behavior in this life affects the outcome. • Israel only began to think of afterlife issues during the exile when justice was not being done in this life, and the return was far off.
HOW TO HAVE A NICE AFTERLIFE • What happens when we get to the NT period? • Here the Sadducees perpetuate the Sheol theology -- see Mt. 22.23-33. • The Pharisees and also Jesus believed in resurrection – of the sort we saw in Dan. 12.1-2. • See John 5.28-29 – Here is Jesus’ view. Again notice the stress on how behavior in this life affects the outcome.
HOW TO HAVE A NICE AFTERLIFE • But what happens at death, before the final resurrection? • The OT says little about this, but in Jesus’ teaching we have some clues. • See Luke 16.19-31– The rich man and Lazarus; • This is a parable. Rather than understanding it to literally describe in detail the afterlife, its point is to say there are eternal consequences to one’s behavior in this life. • See Matthew 11.23 – exalted to heaven or brought down to the dead?
HOW TO HAVE A NICE AFTERLIFE • Jesus does discuss both positive and negative forms of the afterlife in passing. • Gehenna (from the Hinnom valley); See Matthew 5.30 and 7.13. • When Jesus talks about the better afterlife, he refers to what will happen in this world at the eschaton. See Matthew 8.11-12, “after you give an account at judgment day...” See also Matthew 12.36, 42.
HOW TO HAVE A NICE AFTERLIFE • Jesus warns both friend and foe about missing the entering of the Kingdom and going to Gehenna – Matthew 18.2-9. • See the parable of the sheep and the goats – Matthew 25.31-40. • Finally we hear the notion of eternal life and eternal punishment (see vs. 40).
HOW TO HAVE A NICE AFTERLIFE • Do things change after the resurrection of Jesus in terms of the thinking about the afterlife? • Yes, they do! But still throughout the rest of the NT the emphasis is not on dying and going to heaven, the emphasis is on being conformed to the image of Jesus at the resurrection of the righteous.
HOW TO HAVE A NICE AFTERLIFE • Consider 2 Corinthians 5.1-10; • Here we have a theology of ‘absent from the body but present with the Lord’. • Note that this passage says nothing about being present with the relatives! • This condition has rightly been called the intermediate state since it is not viewed as the final destination of Christians. Heaven is not seen as their final home.
HOW TO HAVE A NICE AFTERLIFE • The main vision of the afterlife in the NT, both in the teaching of Jesus and in his followers such as Paul, is that at the return of Christ, the dead in Christ will be raised and be made like him. • The kingdom will then come on earth, as it is in heaven. • 1 Cor. 15.12-58 is a detailed discussion of the future resurrection on Earth where we personally have our own Easter.
HOW TO HAVE A NICE AFTERLIFE • What are the implications for us? • On what basis does one obtain a nice or positive afterlife? • The NT is clear -- believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved by grace through faith (see Ephesians 1). • Is that all there is to it? Actually no! Behavior after conversion affects the outcome.
HOW TO HAVE A NICE AFTERLIFE • Notice the warning to Christians in Gal. 5.19-21. • You are not eternally secure, until you are securely in eternity. • The positive resurrection goes to ‘those who are in Christ’, not to everyone. • The danger of sin must not be minimized, particularly the sin of apostasy.
HOW TO HAVE A NICE AFTERLIFE • Apostasy is seen as an unforgivable sin; see Hebrews 6.4-6; 1 John 5.16-17; • So where do our notions come from that all persons are going to heaven, or will ultimately be saved? • Or the idea that if one is just a decent or good person one will have a nice afterlife?
HOW TO HAVE A NICE AFTERLIFE • The key to salvation both now, and for final salvation, is Jesus Christ and how one relates to him. • Acts 4.12 is quite clear. There is no other name by which we can be saved, than the name of Jesus Christ. • Is this unfair? Is it narrow minded to think there is one Savior for all persons in all ages?
HOW TO HAVE A NICE AFTERLIFE • The ultimate question is not who dies and goes to heaven. • There is evidence that various OT saints will be there in heaven (see Heb. 11.1-12.1-4). • The issue is who will be there when the saints go marching into the kingdom, in the new earth, when Jesus and heaven come down, and on what basis did they get there. • See Revelation 21, 22.
HOW TO HAVE A NICE AFTERLIFE • In the eternal state in the new earth which has merged with the new heaven, the OT and NT saints will all be present. • The focus will be on God and Christ -- Christ being the basis of entrance into the eternal city. • What Paul suggests in Rom. 11.25 is that when Christ returns, many Jews and perhaps others will repent and turn to Christ and be saved. • The point is that always and everywhere salvation is determined by how one relates to Jesus.